Sweden’s Vasttrafik gives out free passes to encourage use of public transport
The passes, valid for a two-week period on buses, ferries, and trams were given out in the framework of a large outreach campaign

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In Gothenburg, Sweden, the regional transport agency Vasttrafik recently gave away 30.000 free passes to encourage residents to make more use of its public transport services.

The passes were handed out part of a large outreach campaign, one of the many the company has commissioned in the last years to raise awareness about the advantages of commuting on public transport.

The creative message of the campaign was designed in collaboration with the agency Forsman & Bodenfors. The campaigners put together 30.000 toy cars (one for each free pass given away) so that the audience could visualise the impact of the initiative.

The passes were only valid for a two week period, and could be used on trams, busses, or ferries.

Joakim Gustafsson, Marketing and Communications project leader at Vasttrafik, stated that such campaigns are intended to be a complementary tool to their ongoing efforts to improve services with more vehicles, lines, and higher frequency.

Vasttrafik has organised 30 similar ‘test ride’ campaigns since 2010, and it claims positive results which have yielded a higher number of customers.

In an effort to simplify its ticket scheme, the company recently announced that all current 70 zones that its network covers will be merged into a 3-zone classification, namely A, B and C. The change will come into effect in autumn 2020.

Vasttrafik is the local transport authority in the Västra Götaland region in Sweden and runs bus, ferry, tram and train services, with a daily ridership of 947,000 trips.

It owns 1.857 busses, 263 trams, 101 trains, and 36 boats. The trip planner on the company’s homepage is used over 1.200.000 times per day.

Similar or more ambitious measures are employed in various cities and countries around the world.

Earlier in 2018, Luxembourg publicly announced that it would make all public transport free starting March 2020.

Free public transport is, however, a highly debated topic in other countries. In Lyon, France for example a recent study commissioned to check the feasibility for such a plan for the city concluded that it would be financially unsustainable on the long term.

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